It was a great pleasure to paint Gracie – a beautiful 2 year old cream and blue British short hair cat. Martha her owner who is a jewellery maker knew the perfect photo to send me to show Gracie in the best light. This shot of Gracie was taken with her sat on a windowsill. the lighting on her back creates a lovely effect together with their garden out of focus – it was such a stunning photo I didn’t have to change anything. This is what happens when you have good lighting.
I start Gracie by working on her outline and then blocking in the background to create the bokeh effect.
Her eyes are so stunning and central to her portrait that I start on them straight away. I spent a very long time building up the layers of colour to give depth and then working on the colour details. When I’m working this close it often feels very abstract, it’s not until I pull back and look from a distance that I can see her eyes take shape.
Next, I start on her left side as I’m mainly right handed and this means I won’t accidentally smudge anything. I’m constantly cleaning my hands to avoid any contamination of colour.
Once I have most of the dark colours in place I can focus on the light colours to create the illusion of her fur. At each stage I checked with Martha to make sure she was 100% happy with the progress. I see my work as a two way process. Even with a perfect photo the colours may not be perfect.
Below is the finished portrait but the markings over her left eye – although the same as the photo are actually darker in real life so we had to wait for morning light and discuss the correct colour to make these markings stand out as they do in real life. It turned out that the true colour was a light brown / ginger where as the photo displayed the colour as a creamy grey.
Here is the completed portrait of Gracie with just the right colour marking above her eye and under her chin. Isn’t she a cutie!!
Martha gifted this portrait to her husband for his birthday. They were both thrilled with it.
I hope you enjoyed the making of Graice’s portrait, if you’d like to commission a cat portrait for yourself or a friend there’s lots of information here and you’re welcome to phone me for an informal chat. Tel: 07740 282399
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